'It's time to make a change': PM flags overhaul of skills system

Australia’s training and skills system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be overhauled, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a National Press Club meeting on Tuesday.

Announcing the JobMaker plan to get the Australian economy “off ICU” and into recovery mode, Morrison flagged changes to the current tertiary funding model which sees $1.5bn of federal cash flow to state and territory governments annually for skills and training.

“We need Australians better trained for the jobs that businesses are looking to create,” he said, citing a “clunky and unresponsive” system.

“Our current system is not fit for purpose, especially given the scale of the jobs challenge that we now face as a nation”.

Morrison said Australia’s industrial relations system has “lost sight of its purpose to get workplace settings right” so businesses and workers can fairly benefit from their efforts and their contributions.

“It is a system that has, to date, retreated to tribalism, conflict, and ideological posturing. No side of that debate has been immune from those maladies,” he said.

“This will need to change, or more Australians will unnecessarily lose their jobs, and more Australians will be kept out of jobs”

Morrison said the first step to achieving this will be convening key stakeholders so that an agreement can be reached.

Attorney-General Christian Porter will chair five working groups for discussion, negotiation and agreement, to produce the JobMaker package in the areas of award simplification, enterprise agreement-making and casuals and fixed-term employees.

Membership of each group will include employer and union representatives, as well as individuals chosen based on their demonstrated experience and expertise. This will include small businesses, rural and regional operators, multicultural communities, women and families.

“It will become apparent very quickly if progress is to be made. The working groups will either reach something approaching a consensus on issues, or they won’t,” Morrison said,

“But we’ve got to give it a go”.